California fired back at more than a dozen parents, including two from San Diego County, that filed a lawsuit against Governor Gavin Newsom and the state in hopes of blocking campus closures.
The opposition filed by the state Monday claims the parents' 35-page July lawsuit is based on old ideas about how coronavirus affects children.
"In the early stages of the pandemic, when scientific knowledge about COVID-19 was limited, COVID-19 was incorrectly believed to have minimal effect on children of any age,” the state’s response reads. “Although children with COVID-19 do not always exhibit the same signs and symptoms as adults, it is now the scientific consensus that children are not only susceptible to the disease, but may experience uniquely severe complications as a result."
Plaintiff and San Diego single mother Tiffany Mitrowke called the response dismissive.
“It’s just a vague answer. They just don't care,” Mitrowke said, adding, “I don't think they have proven that there are large groups of little kids that are getting COVID.”
It was Mitrowke and other parents’ lawsuit that first claimed the state was acting in disregard of science.
“Governor Newsom’s inexplicable restrictions on school reopening is not based in scientific facts, and is completely arbitrary especially in light of the fact that California allows all of the functional components of schools allowed in camps and childcare,” the lawsuit claimed.
Mitrowke said distance learning in the spring failed her 7-year-old son RJ and the prospect of virtual learning this fall has darkened his mood and attitude toward school. So now, she said, she’s in a fight for his future.
“I feel like the risk is greater than us not sending our kids back,” she said. “We just need to get the schools open. The kids need to get back, they need to have interaction and they need to get an education."
RJ attends Lemon Avenue Elementary School in La Mesa. His start date was pushed to August 27 in hopes San Diego County would be off the state's watch list by then and in-person instruction could resume.
If the county reports a case rate below 100 Friday, it will fall off of the state’s watch list. However, the case rate will have to remain under 100 for a two-week period starting Saturday before K-12 schools and school districts can bring students back on campus.